'I never heard his feet behind me--he always walked like a cat--but his arm slid round my neck, pulling me back where I sat, till my head lay on his chest, and his left hand held the knife plumb over my heart--Benedetto! Even so I laughed--the fit was beyond my holding--laughed while he ground his teeth in my ear. He was stark crazed for the time.

This is from "Rewards and Fairies" by Kipling.(The Wrong Thing) http://pinkmonkey.com/dl/library1/digi300.pdf

I can't understand what "the fit was beyond my holding" means.

Does it mean like this? "his excitement was beyond my expectation"

I am glad if somebody kindly teach me.

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    The phrase means "I couldn't hold back my laughter." In English, we sometimes refer to "a fit of laughter." See Dictionary.com's definition of the noun fit, which has the examples a fit of anger; a fit of weeping. Sep 5, 2016 at 3:17
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    I hope you understand that Kipling wrote in a style that was florid even for his time, and which is perceived as almost laughably antiquated today. Many of his constructions and usages would be viewed as quaint or silly by today's standards. (By the way, in English we always place a space after the comma or period, never before it.) Sep 5, 2016 at 7:43
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    @P.E.Dant - RK did not ordinarily write in a style florid for his time--he was a master of contemporary dialog--but the Puck and Rewards stories represent character from deep in England's past, who speak dialects with touches which reflect the English of their own time. The character speaking in this passage is a sixteenth-century artist. Sep 5, 2016 at 10:11
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    @StoneyB - I should have said "sometimes wrote." As one who has Kipled extensively, I am all in favor of the appreciation of his work. My concern is only that new students of English not be presented with his sometimes purple prose as if it represents contemporary English usage. Sep 5, 2016 at 10:33
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    @Hiroshi Inagaki-Than you somuch for your warm supports as usual. Englis is not my native language, so I can not feel his texts are florid or not so well. But his story is so exciting though they were written 100 yerad ago. His works are great treasures for me. But it is too tough to read and understand them by myself. Your supportrs and advise are so great help ! Sep 6, 2016 at 1:26

1 Answer 1


(I am transferring P. E. Dant's comment to an answer so that this can be removed from the Unanswered queue).

The phrase means "I couldn't hold back my laughter." In English, we sometimes refer to "a fit of laughter." - P.E. Dant

In this case, the narrator, Hal, has been threatened by Benedetto - he is holding a knife to his heart. But even though Hal thinks he will die, he cannot keep himself from laughing because the situation is so ironic.

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